WATCH: Minister Penny Mordaunt confronted by protestor at aid abuse crackdown conference
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt was interrupted by a charity whistleblower today as she hosted a conference on rooting out abuse in the aid sector.
The Cabinet minister faced a protest from ex-Save the Children employee Alexie Pepper de Caires, who came on stage and accused the Government of silencing those speaking out against abuse by charities.
Ms de Caires told the secretary of state: "A number of us would like to be on this platform but we have been kept back by a number of attempts by DFID (the Department for International Development) and your attempts to control the women who are speaking out in this sector."
The sector was rocked after allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff working in Haiti were uncovered by the Times this year.
Today's summit saw Ms Mordaunt unveil a new passport system for aid workers in a bid to clamp down on abuse.
She also confirmed that DfID plans to work with organisations including Interpol and Save the Children to set up a new system to stop offenders moving between aid organisatons.
But Ms de Caires, who set up campaign group Safe Space after quitting Save the Children in protest at its handling of abuse claims, said: "I was disgusted to learn on my way here to this morning's summit that Save the Children will be awarded a headline project to try and tackle sexual misconduct in this sector when they are still under investigation by the Charity Commission themselves."
Ms Mordaunt allowed the protestor to finish her speech but insisted she had not been aware about concerns that some groups had been excluded from the event.
She offered Ms de Caires the closing slot at the conference, saying: "What I can do today is I will give up the summary slot of this summit to you or colleagues that want to speak, if you would be happy with that?"
The International Development Secretary told reporters afterwards that she was "very sorry" people had felt excluded from the gathering.
She added: "The only thing I could do today to rectify that – because I think it is important that their voices are heard – is to give them a platform.
"I personally didn’t know of their concern until today. We will do everything we can to ensure that people are able to speak up, they are able to articulate their concerns."